The Gold Sally Awards recognizes the crucial role screenwriting plays in the filmmaking process. Among the best movies I saw in 2020, you can choose which film contained the best story! Even though you can only vote once per person, you are able to vote for more than one nominee. As I’ve said before, the link to the poll is featured under the list of nominees. This poll starts today, March 15th, and ends on March 21st.
To celebrate the anniversary of 18 Cinema Lane’s beginning, I host a movie awards to highlight the best films I saw in the previous year. As I had several projects on my plate in February, the Gold Sally Awards were pushed back. However, the Gold Sally Awards are still happening, starting with the Best Movie category! In this division, all of the films that were featured on my Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2020 list will compete for the title of Gold Sally Awards’ Best Movie. Like in years past, you are allowed to vote for more than one nominee. But you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today and ends on March 14th. On the bottom of the poll, there is a link where you can submit your vote. If you’re having technical difficulties, please don’t hesitate to speak up in the comment section.
When you hear the phrase, “Home Sweet Home”, what comes to mind? Perhaps warm, happy memories spent with family or the feeling of being safe within a chosen, personal environment. Unfortunately, some families don’t get to experience these feelings of safety and happiness. This could be the case for a variety of reasons. Because of that fact, I picked the 2000 movie, Taming Andrew, for Realweegiemidget Reviews’ and Taking Up Room’s Home Sweet Home Blogathon. The second reason why I selected this particular film is because of the subject matter itself. When it comes to cinematic stories that revolve around kidnapping, we mostly get two kinds of films; a movie that primarily focuses on the kidnapping or a movie where the supposed kidnapping victim’s identity is questioned. Taming Andrew is about the aftermath of a kidnapping, when a missing child is found. Since that specific storyline is not often found in film, I wanted to see this story unfold.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: In Taming Andrew, there were some acting performances that stood out to me. The most notable one came from Seth Adkins, whose portrayal of the titular character stole the show! When a story revolves around a young character, casting a young actor or actress who can, talent-wise, carry most of the movie is essential. With Seth’s performance, it contained the emotional weight you would expect from a film of this nature. As Andrew’s mother, Gail, is helping Andrew get ready for bed-time, he refuses to show his mother any amount of affection. Andrew turns away from Gail and irritation can be seen on his face. When Gail turns off the light in Andrew’s room, he immediately screams, as the dark room reminds Andrew of what he experienced during the kidnapping. Another good performance came from Jason Beghe! Portraying Andrew’s stepfather, Eddie, Jason presented his character with a sense of realism. As Eddie and Gail are discussing recent events involving Andrew, Eddie is concerned about the safety of their baby. This scene showcases how Eddie’s acting talents appeared natural. Shannon Lawson portrayed Deena, Gail’s friend and co-worker. What made her performance memorable was how she was able to balance a sassy and serious persona. At the beginning of the film, Gail is sharing her fears about her ex-husband with Deena. Filled with concern in her face and words, Deena tells Gail that she’ll stand by her friend, offering to help Gail if she needed it. Later in the movie, when Gail is leaving her job in order to homeschool her son, Deena jokingly agrees that no one will replace Gail at work. These scenes are a good example of Shannon’s versatility when it comes to her acting talents!
Exploring the aftermath of a kidnapping: As I mentioned in the introduction, Taming Andrew focuses on the aftermath of a kidnapping. This means the story primarily shows what happens after Andrew is found. It was interesting to see the journey of a kidnapping victim overcoming their trauma. Because of Seth’s performance and because the script emphasizes Andrew’s emotional, psychological, and educational struggles, it effectively shows how a horrific situation like Andrew’s can affect a child. I also said the aftermath of a kidnapping is not often found in cinema. Since this is the case, I’m glad Taming Andrew chose this route for their script. It highlights what some individuals and families face, as well as address how one person’s decision can cause a ripple effect.
The inclusion of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: In one scene, when Gail and her mother are watching television, they see a news report featuring Gail. This report shows Gail making a speech about her missing son. During the speech, a banner for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is briefly shown. Buttons and posters displaying the photos of other missing children can also be seen on the television screen. The inclusion of the banner, buttons, and posters was a subtle, yet effective way of showcasing how big of an issue children’s safety really is. It highlights how abduction can take place at any time for any person as well.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Andrew’s return is treated as no big deal: Like I just mentioned, Gail was featured on the news making a speech about her missing son. This news report was on a local news station, with the report itself taking place five months after Andrew was kidnapped. When Andrew returns five years later, no news reports are made about him. In fact, the event itself seems to be no big deal for almost anyone outside of Andrew’s family. Because Taming Andrew is based on true events, I, personally, find it hard to believe the aforementioned local news station wouldn’t cover Andrew’s return. Looking back on missing persons stories where the missing person was found alive, those types of stories tend to receive a lot of attention from the news.
A rushed journey: Even though Andrew’s personal journey was interesting to watch, I found it to be, at times, rushed. One example can be seen toward the beginning of Andrew’s journey. At an evaluation meeting, the medical professionals tell Gail that her son might need to be placed in a school for children who benefit from special education. A few moments later, the audience can see Gail taking Andrew to traditional public school. I know there is only so much story you can tell in an hour and twenty-eight minutes. However, it felt like important steps from point A to point B were missing.
The events of the kidnapping revealed at the end of the movie: When a movie’s story is about a kidnapping, the biggest question on almost every audience member’s mind is what happened during the event itself. These stories, more often than not, show or tell what happened as a way to provide the audience with a sense of closure. Taming Andrew does reveal how Andrew became traumatized by the kidnapping. However, this information isn’t presented until the end of the film. I understand those who have faced traumatic situations face their trauma at their own pace. But, as I already said, there is only so much story you can tell in an hour and twenty-eight minutes. With that said, the events surrounding Andrew’s kidnapping should have been revealed sooner.
My overall impression:
Whenever I participate in a blogathon, I try to choose a film or topic that brings something different to the table. That is certainly the case for Taming Andrew, as it presents the aftermath of a kidnapping. I’m glad a film like this exists because it sheds light on a subject that doesn’t often get talked about in the world of cinema. But there are flaws that held this movie back from being stronger than it was. Parts of Andrew’s journey were rushed and the events surrounding the kidnapping were revealed at the end of the movie. These issues make me wish the film had been two hours. The part where the news completely ignores Andrew’s return is something I found unbelievable, especially since Taming Andrew is based on true events. What I can say about this movie is how it emphasizes the point I made in my introduction, how some families don’t experience safety and happiness. A missing child or trauma can certainly be just two factors that deny families these things.
Overall score: 7.2 out of 10
Are you participating in the Home Sweet Home Blogathon? If so, which movie did you choose to write about? Let me know in the comments section!
This is my first time participating in the Luso World Cinema Blogathon. Because I’m not familiar with the subject of Luso World Cinema, I gave my submission careful consideration. A movie I have wanted to watch for a while is Ladies in Lavender. When I discovered Daniel Brühl was one of the blogathon’s recommended subjects, I decided to review his 2005 film, as he is one of the starring actors in that movie. I haven’t seen many projects from Daniel’s filmography. In fact, the only film of his I’ve seen is Captain America: Civil War. So, this is a good opportunity for me to see what his acting talents have to offer outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The synopsis of Ladies in Lavender reminded me of Swept from the Sea, a movie I reviewed two years ago. Because of this, I will compare and contrast these two films from time to time in this review.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: For this part of the review, I will take a moment to talk about Daniel Brühl’s performance, as he is the reason why I reviewed this movie. His portrayal of Andrea was enjoyable to watch! It combined both comedic and dramatic elements that helped make Daniel’s performance entertaining. One example is when Andrea is peeling potatoes with Dorcas. What also worked in Daniel’s favor was how he was able to portray his character realistically. Whenever Andrea is trying to make his wishes known to the other characters, you can see him becoming frustrated at times. This was achieved through Daniel’s facial expressions and body language. Despite not being familiar with Natascha McElhone as an actress, I did like her portrayal of Olga. She appeared throughout the film as an approachable character. Natascha also had a good on-screen relationship with Daniel Brühl as well as with the other actors. A perfect example is when Olga is interacting with Andrea in her cottage. Speaking of on-screen relationships, I liked seeing Judi Dench and Maggie Smith work together in this film. While they have similar acting styles, their characters were allowed to have their own district personalities. This let them shine individually as well as together! One of their best scenes is when their characters, Janet and Ursula, receive terrible news over the phone. As Janet is telling her sister what happened, Ursula immediately crumbles into tears. This scene showcases how the sisters have an unbreakable bond!
The scenery: Similar to Swept from the Sea, Ladies in Lavender takes place in the English countryside. This particular environment provided photogenic scenery that visually complemented the story! Because Ladies in Lavender is set in a seaside town, there are some scenes that take place around the ocean. It was captured very well on film at various moments, from a morning scene where the rising sun perfectly contrasted the water to a night-time shot of the rolling waves. Country landscapes were also included in the movie! In one scene, Olga is painting a landscape of rolling hills with a nearby tower. The location itself contained beautiful green hills that looked great on a sunny day. The gray of the nearby tower paired surprisingly well with the rolling hills’ green hue. Because of how picturesque this space was, it makes sense that Olga would want to capture it on canvas!
The cinematography: I was pleasantly surprised by the good cinematography found in Ladies in Lavender, especially when it came to scenes involving water! In films where a character is drowning, those scenes are usually presented with a fast pace and quick cuts. When we see Andrea’s flashbacks, they are presented at a slower pace. This allowed the audience to see what is happening on screen as Andrea is shown in the water. One of the most beautifully shot scenes I’ve ever seen is when Andrea is playing a violin on a rocky ledge at night. His dark silhouette perfectly contrasts with the deep blue ocean that looks like it sparkles in the evening. The color scheme of blue, white, and black are prominently featured and is visually appealing!
What I didn’t like about the film:
An unclear direction: In Swept from the Sea, the overall story is a drama with a romance included. This is a clear creative direction that was consistent throughout the film. Ladies in Lavender is different, as the story went in many different directions. It gets to the point where it was difficult to determine what the plot was about besides the main premise. Was the story supposed to be about a forbidden romance? Or was it meant to revolve around the strained relationship between two siblings? Maybe it was supposed to partially focus on Andrea’s musical dreams? The story of Ladies in Lavender adopted too many ideas. That decision made the overall film feel like it was bouncing around from place to place.
Telling more than showing: At various moments in Ladies in Lavender, the audience is told how Andrea was washed up ashore. We are even shown flashbacks where he is seen drowning. However, we never get to see the events that caused Andrea to fall overboard. Because of this, the audience is not given a complete picture of what happened. At one point in the story, Janet and Ursula meet Olga. They express how they don’t like this new visitor. But the audience never receives an explanation for why Janet and Ursula do not like Olga. Visuals should have been used to illustrate the sisters’ point. If this had been the case, we might have gotten a better glimpse into Janet and Ursula’s perspective.
The exclusion of Andrea’s perspective: I know this movie is called Ladies in Lavender, with the title referring to Janet and Ursula. But because the overall story primarily focused on Janet and Ursula’s perspective, we don’t see the story from Andrea’s perspective. In Swept from the Sea, the story is narrated by Dr. Kennedy. Despite this, the audience is allowed to see that film’s world from Yanko’s perspective. That aspect of Swept from the Sea also gave the audience an opportunity to truly get to know Yanko as a character. With Ladies in Lavender, I feel like I barely know Andrea. The inclusion of Andrea’s perspective would have easily solved this issue.
My overall impression:
Ladies in Lavender is a film that I found to be just ok. Yes, there are aspects worth appreciating, such as Daniel Brühl’s performance. As a matter of fact, this movie made me appreciate Daniel’s acting abilities more! But if I had to choose between Ladies in Lavender and Swept from the Sea, I’d choose Swept from the Sea. This is because I find that movie to be stronger among the two. With Ladies in Lavender, the direction of the overall story was unclear. While there was a main conflict, it was difficult to determine what the main plot was. More telling than showing was also one of the movie’s flaws, not giving the audience the full picture when it came to certain areas of the story. I found the lack of Andrea’s perspective to be disappointing as well. This prevented me from truly getting to know Andrea as a character. Even though Ladies in Lavender will not be one of the best movies I saw this year, I am glad I participated in the Luso World Cinema Blogathon. I wonder what I’ll chose to write about next year?
Overall score: 6.3 out of 10
Have you seen Ladies in Lavender? Are there any Luso World Cinema films you’d like to see me review? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
While I saw more good movies than bad this year, I wasn’t able to avoid some stinkers. Now that I’ve published my best movies of the year list, I can now discuss which movies were the worst ones I saw in 2020! I watch movies in the hopes of them being good. However, some stories turn out better than others. As I have stated before on my blog, my worst films of the year lists are not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. These lists are just ways for me express my opinion in an honest and informed way. Similar to my best movies of 2020 list, I will start this post with my dishonorable mentions and then move on to the official list!
Working Miracles, Her Deadly Reflections, The Cabin, Thicker Than Water, Touched by Romance, The Wrong Wedding Planner, Murder in the Vineyard, Jane Doe: Yes, I Remember It Well, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift, Is There a Killer on my Street?, and Stolen in Plain Sight
10. Angel on My Shoulder
When choosing which movie would end up in the tenth spot, it was between The Cabin and Angel on My Shoulder. Because I had higher expectations for the 1946 movie, that’s the one that was placed on this list. The overall film is painfully average, as I said in my review. Even though there is a clear conflict, it takes quite some time for that to be resolved. The personal journey of the protagonist, Eddie, is stunted. This is due to the character spending most of the story as an unchanged man. After watching Angel on My Shoulder, it makes me thankful that a story about a dog going to heaven was executed so well.
In 2020, I watched most of the movies from Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. Within the nine-film collection, the first chapter is certainly the worst. What makes a good mystery movie is a strong sense of excitement. This is a quality that Jane Doe: Vanishing Act was, sadly, devoid of. Everyone involved with this project looked like their hearts were not fully invested in what they doing. It was as if they wanted to get the film done and over with just to move on to something else. While I continued on with the series, it was in the hopes that the next film would be better than the introduction. If you plan on creating a series, this is not the way you get an audience invested in it.
8. My Husband’s Deadly Past
There are two kinds of Lifetime movies; those that are surprisingly good and those that are predictably unenjoyable. My Husband’s Deadly Past perfectly fits into the latter category. Even though I found the inclusion of psychology/hypnosis to be interesting, the story’s focus on ripping off the 1993 movie, The Fugitive, overshadows any of the film’s strengths. The protagonist in My Husband’s Deadly Past is the type of character that makes one poor decision after another. It also doesn’t help that the movie contains a few romantic moments that feel out of place within the overall tone. Two other films on this list make the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did. But, to avoid spoilers, I’ll talk about them more later.
7. Out of the Woods
I can honestly say Out of the Woods is one of the most meandering films I’ve ever seen. It takes so long for the story to get to its intended point, that story points are either completely ignored or are not fully developed. One example is how a white wolf continuously crosses paths with the protagonist. No explanation is given as to what the purpose of this wolf was or whether it was real. Another disappointment is how Native American culture is glossed over. Native American stories are rarely found in Hallmark’s library, so it is a letdown when a film containing Native American culture doesn’t work out. If you want to watch an Ed Asner led Hallmark movie with similar ideas and themes, I’d recommend the 2008 movie, Generation Gap. It does a better job at telling a story of two people trying to understand each other.
6. Mystery Woman: At First Sight
Before there was Hailey Dean, there was Samantha Kinsey from Hallmark’s Mystery Woman series. This early collection from the network is one where I’ve seen most of its installments. Out of the movies I have watched, Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the one I disliked the most. Both of the overarching mysteries in this story are poorly written. They are also overshadowed by the drama within the plot. Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the seventh movie in this series, which is a shame because its previous chapters created an enjoyable cinematic run. I’m not sure how much directorial experience Kellie Martin had prior to working on this project. Even though I think it would be interesting to see her direct a Hailey Dean Mysteries movie, her effort on Mystery Woman: At First Sight was not her strongest.
5. Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama
It breaks my heart how this movie disappointed me so much. In fact, Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama is the most disappointing movie I saw in 2020. It copied Pirates of the Caribbean’s homework without trying to understand what made that trilogy of films work. Also, for a movie called Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, Captain Sabertooth himself sat on the sidelines of his own story. Pinky was a likable character, but making him the protagonist made the title seem misleading. I just hope this film doesn’t dissuade other studios from creating their own pirate narratives.
Remember when I said there were two films that made the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did? Well, Anniversary Nightmare is one of them. Like My Husband’s Deadly Past, Anniversary Nightmare rips off The Fugitive. But this Lifetime title is so bad, it is, at times, laughable. Both the acting and writing are poor. All of the movie’s flashback scenes are terribly filmed, captured through heavy “shaky cam” and covered in a red film. These two factors made it difficult to see what was happening on screen when a flashback arrived. I haven’t seen a Lifetime movie this bad in quite some time. If you’re interested in participating in Taking Up Room’s So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, Anniversary Nightmare might be an option.
3. I’m Not Ready for Christmas
I didn’t see as many Christmas movies this year as I did in 2019. But I can confidently say that 2015’s I’m Not Ready for Christmas is the worst Christmas film I saw in 2020. While it doesn’t rip off The Fugitive, the movie does place more emphasis on being a pointless, Christmas remake of Liar Liar, a well-known title from the ‘90s. Therefore, I’m Not Ready for Christmas also makes the same mistake A Cheerful Christmas did last year.There were parts of this story that didn’t make sense. Even the title, I’m Not Ready for Christmas, had nothing to do with the events in the plot. When you look past the typical Christmas aesthetic Hallmark can’t get enough of, you realize the story itself isn’t Christmas-y. If the creative team behind this project knew their script wasn’t exclusive to the Christmas season, they should have focused on the messages and themes of the holiday, like If You Believe did sixteen years prior. For their New Year’s Resolution, maybe Hallmark and Lifetime should move away from famous ‘90s films as their source of inspiration.
This movie was so bad, it honestly made me feel uncomfortable. That was because the film’s overarching view on marriage and divorce was so one-sided and skewed. I’ve been told Marriage on the Rocks was originally intended to be a satire. Sadly, that’s not the movie I ended up seeing. What I got instead was a comedy that I didn’t find very funny. The “comedy of errors” direction the screenwriter took just made the character’s situations more complicated, as most of the errors do not receive a satisfying resolution. It’s also a film that feels longer than its designated run-time. If you have never seen any of Frank Sinatra’s, Dean Martin’s, or Deborah Kerr’s movies before, please don’t let Marriage on the Rocks be your starting point.
For most of 2020, I thought Marriage on the Rocks would be the worst movie I saw this year. That was until Twentieth Century came along and proved me wrong. Where Marriage on the Rocks made me uncomfortable, Twentieth Century made me appalled. The fact Lily and Oscar’s relationship was so abusive in a movie classified as a “romantic comedy” serves as one example. Last time I checked, unhealthy relationships were not funny or romantic. To Marriage on the Rocks’ credit, the story featured characters that didn’t support the film’s narrative. Even though, more often than not, they were looked down upon, they always stood up for what they believed in and tried to help the main characters see the fault in their ways. With Twentieth Century, however, there were no “voices of reason”. None of the characters faced accountability whenever they did something wrong or made any attempt to change their ways. When I reflect on this movie, I question what the creative team was trying to tell its audience. But based on my reaction to the final product, maybe I don’t want to know.
2020 was a year that threw a huge wrench into a lot of movie-goers’ plans. As theaters shut their doors and new releases continuously changed dates, there were movie related content creators that had to either adapt as best they could or completely change their formula. Fortunately for 18 Cinema Lane, the impact of this year’s Coronavirus didn’t change the type of content published on the site. As with the previous two years, I saw more good movies than bad. This is honestly the first year where I had difficulty creating my top ten best movies list because of the quantity of enjoyable films that left a memorable impression on me. Since I published my worst movies of the year list first last year, I’ll post my best movies of the year list first this time around. As usual, I will begin the list with my honorable mentions and then move on to the official top ten list. Now let’s get this list started!
Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, Where There’s a Will, Generation Gap, A Beautiful Place to Die: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Sweet Surrender, Picture Perfect Mysteries: Dead Over Diamonds, Riddled with Deceit: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder, House of the Long Shadows, Up in the Air, The Crow, Mystery Woman: Game Time, Fashionably Yours, Finding Forrester, Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), Expecting a Miracle, Time Share, Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), The Wife of Monte Cristo, Cry Wolf, Mystery Woman: Mystery Weekend, Perry Mason Returns, Perry Mason and the Notorious Nun, Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, The Terry Fox Story, Follow Your Heart, House of Wax, Funny Face, and The Christmas Bow
10. Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
Looking back on the four film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ work I’ve reviewed, I realize how lucky I am to come across those I enjoyed. Despite having never read Nicholas Nickleby, this production was both understandable and engaging! With the 2002 version of this story, its balance of joy and despair is a staple of the world-famous author’s I recognize from his other stories like Oliver Twist. As I said in my review of Nicholas Nickleby, it can be easy to forget the beauty this world can offer, especially during a year like 2020. I don’t often come across a movie that is so good, it makes me want to seek out its original source material. For this film, however, I just found an exception!
This is an interesting entry from the Breen Code era. It’s a darker musical that is dark in nature for the sake of providing thought-provoking commentary. Like I said in my review, The Unfinished Dance does a good job exploring what happens when truth disappears from the world. All of the musical numbers in this film have a strong reason for being in the story, as opposed to typical musicals where the numbers feel more spontaneous than planned. Even though dance is emphasized more than the story, the quality of the routines themselves make this film worth a watch! The movie is a hidden gem that I wish more people knew about.
I’m glad I was given an opportunity to re-watch this film, as it was just as enjoyable as when I first saw it! The story moves away from the aesthetic that most Christmas movies adopt. Instead, it relies on the messages and themes associated with the Christmas holiday. This creative decision is a breath of fresh air, bringing a different kind of narrative that isn’t often found during that time of year. If You Believe is a film that does what it sets out to do. It also helps that it has stood the test of time.
This is the kind of Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I wish was made more often, one where unique concepts are explored and celebrated. Instead of following a plot, the story revolves around a debate. The subject matter was not only handled with reverence, but each perspective was shown in a respectful light. I’m not a fan of this film’s ending, but I respect Hallmark’s decision to include it in the script, as it respects the audience’s intelligence. Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a title from this collection that can be used as an introduction to Hallmark Hall of Fame!
6. From Up on Poppy Hill
Studio Ghibli has a reputation for giving it their all when it comes to making movies. Besides their signature animation style, they also take the time to create fantastic worlds and memorable characters. While From Up on Poppy Hill doesn’t contain any of the magical elements that can sometimes be found in Studio Ghibli’s stories, the project doesn’t feel out of place in their collection. The plot is a simple one, but the inclusion of interesting characters and world-building is what makes it work. It also contains a great message about history that fits into the script very well.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is more than just a story about Batman. It’s a chance for audience members to see a side of this superhero that doesn’t often get presented in the world of film. The movie is a good example of how impressive 2-D animation can be. Even though the world has moved on to the wonders of 3-D and computer graphics, there will always be a place for older styles of animation. Despite having seen only a handful of Batman films, I can honestly say Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the better options! The story itself is just as interesting as the world of Gotham City.
Grace & Glorie contains Hallmark’s favorite cliché of featuring a woman from a big city moving to a small town. But what sets this story apart is how that cliché is not the main focus of the film. Instead, the plot revolves around the friendship of Grace and Gloria. Because the titular characters were portrayed by two strong actresses, it made the dynamic between Grace and Gloria interesting to watch. Similar to From Up on Poppy Hill, this Hallmark Hall of Fame title has a simpler plot that works in its favor. Grace & Glorie is a type of story that is rarely seen on Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The movie is also an underrated gem that I wish more Hallmark fans were aware of.
With the way the theatrical landscape was affected in 2020, it kind of feels weird that a film like Matinee would appear on a best movies of the year list for 2020. But instead of making me miss the cinema or feel jealous of the characters as they get to see a movie in a theater, this particular 1993 title reminded me of what I love about film. Because I have a special place in my heart for Phantom of the Megaplex, Matinee showed me that there is more than one story that could show people how movies can be fun. One of the messages of this narrative is that film can provide a much-needed break from the troubles of the real world. With the way 2020 turned out, Matinee seemed to come at the right place and time.
Every year, there is that one movie that catches me by surprise because of how good it is. The Boy Who Could Fly was definitely that film in 2020! I was pleasantly surprised by how well the overall story has aged. Given the subject material and the time it was released in, I can certainly say that my expectations were subverted. While The Boy Who Could Fly would be considered a “teen movie”, it doesn’t follow a lot of the patterns that most of these types of stories would contain. The themes of showing compassion for others, dealing with grief, and understanding people’s differences are given center stage.
Who knew a Frank Sinatra movie would become the best one I saw in 2020? When I look back on this film, I remember how much fun I had watching it! As I said in my review, I spent most of my time smiling and laughing, which shows how the film’s joyful nature can certainly help anyone improve their mood. Anchors Aweigh is a strong movie on so many different levels. The acting, story, and musical numbers alone showcase how much thought and effort went into the overall production. If I were to introduce someone to the Breen Code era or musicals in general, this is the film I’d show them. Anchors Aweigh was certainly a bright spot in a year like 2020.
Anyone who knows me would know that one of my favorite movies is the Disney Channel film, Phantom of the Megaplex. In fact, this movie has had a great influence on my life, as it showed me that the world of film and the movie-going experience could be fun. Because its milestone 20th birthday was on November 10th, I decided to use my entry for my blogathon, A Blogathon to be Thankful For, to celebrate this special occasion. A lot has changed since 2000, especially the movie-going experience. With that said, this editorial will highlight how different a trip to the theater is now compared to its depiction in Phantom of the Megaplex. The actual birthday itself looked very different than expected, due to the months-long Coronavirus pandemic. For the sake of this editorial, I will be discussing today’s theater-going experience as if 2020 were a typical year. Also, all of the photos are screenshots I took, unless stated otherwise.
Purchasing a Ticket
In Phantom of the Megaplex, Karen, the younger sister of the film’s protagonist, Pete, plans on arriving at the theater at 7:30 in order to catch a 7:50 showing of a movie called ‘University of Death’. When she and her younger brother, Brian, get to the theater, they are stuck waiting in a long line. This is the result of Movie Mason, a patron of the theater, spending more time persuading guests to see better films than taking their tickets. Fortunately, Karen isn’t late to her film. But, when she meets her friend outside the auditorium’s door, Karen and her friend briefly discuss the idea of their other friend saving seats for them. The example I just described shows how movie-goers in 2000 used to arrive much earlier than their movie’s run-time to not only purchase a ticket, but to also claim their seat of choice. In addition, movie-goers arrived early to the theater to avoid any unexpected hiccups like the one I mentioned. Twenty years later, it’s still encouraged to show up early to the theater so you’re not late to your film. However, buying tickets and choosing seats are not an issue like they were before. Thanks to the internet, movie-goers can purchase their tickets on their local theater’s website or from a third-party site like Fandango or Atom Tickets. Movie-goers are given an opportunity to reserve their seats as well. Had the story of Phantom of the Megaplex taken place now, all Karen and Brian would have to do is show an employee their pre-paid, printed out ticket and avoid a line like the one Movie Mason created.
Several scenes in Phantom of the Megaplex show the auditoriums inside the theater. All of the chairs featured are covered in a red material with a folding seat. Theater-goers in 2000 would have this style of chair as their only option. But since then, more cinemas have adopted recliners. There are even theaters that have chosen other forms of seating, such as couches and lounge chairs. However, if you would like to sit in a theater chair from twenty years ago, there is one theater chain that has put these chairs to good use. Two Emagine theaters in Minnesota offer “retro seating”. According to the theater’s website, these are “retro auditoriums that don’t feature recliners, but have throwback seats with throwback prices”.
Because Phantom of the Megaplex is a family friendly film, bars would not be found at the cinema. However, theaters have added bars to their facilities within the past two decades. One example is AMC Theaters’ MacGuffins Bar. AMC’s official website states “the term “macguffin,” coined by Alfred Hitchcock, refers to a plot device that propels a movie forward”. The website, Run Pee (a site that informs audience members of the best times to take bathroom breaks during a movie), shares that MacGuffins Bar sometimes correlates drinks with the movies shown at the theater. One example is “a dino-themed bevvie when Jurassic World 2 was showing”.
Movie’s Poster at the Door
Throughout the Cotton Hills Megaplex, the theater where Phantom of the Megaplex takes place, a movie’s poster is located in front of the auditorium the movie will be playing. In a scene where the “Phantom” causes mischief, a poster for a movie titled ‘Glimpses of Genevieve’ is located right next to the theater’s twenty third auditorium. The film’s title is also electronically shown above the poster. Personally, I have never seen this particular set-up at any theater I’ve attended. Also, theaters today will either not have any indicator (besides the ticket itself) of what movie is playing in the auditorium or the film’s title will be electronically shown above the auditorium’s door. The poster itself will be located in another area of the theater, such as near the main entrance.
One of the characters in Phantom of the Megaplex is a “cinema sitter”, an elderly woman who walks around the premises and makes sure the theater’s patrons are on their best behavior. Her role is similar to that of a hall monitor, reprimanding guests who wander the halls of the Cotton Hills Megaplex. This is another concept that I have never seen or heard of at any theater I’ve attended. I’m also not aware of “cinema sitters” being an official component of movie theaters prior to the release of Phantom of the Megaplex. The only thing closest to a “cinema sitter” in real life is Harkins Theatres’ PlayCenter. This space, located in select Harkins Theatres, is dedicated to looking after children while their parents are seeing a movie. The PlayCenter itself would be compared to a typical day care center, a place where children can be occupied while their parents are away. According to the official Harkins Theatres website, “PlayCenter staff members are trained professionals who work exclusively in the PlayCenter. They are background checked and fingerprinted.”
A row of payphones can be occasionally seen throughout Phantom of the Megaplex. From Pete calling his mom to one of Pete’s co-workers, Lacy, putting a phone back in the payphone holder, these payphones are used to scare Julie, Pete’s mom, and George, Julie’s boyfriend, into going to the cinema to check on Julie’s children. While I’m not denying the existence of payphones in movie theaters, I personally don’t remember seeing payphones in the cinema. Since the film’s release, cellphones, particularly the smart phone variety, have become more common in society. This modern advancement has ultimately led payphones to become more obsolete.
The Projection Booth
The projection booth in Phantom of the Megaplex is operated by Merle, the head projectionist at the Cotton Hills Megaplex. When Pete and Brian ask Merle to resolve one of the “Phantom’s” shenanigans, Merle inspects the projector equipment to show Pete and Brian what likely happened. He even pulls a piece of film strip, proving that the movie itself had not been tampered with. In 2000, movie theaters were not utilizing digital cinema like they are today. Instead of using a digitized film reel or hard drives and internet links, theaters used film reels with strips of film. The closest thing to “state of the art” film projection cinemas had in 2000 was IMAX. Today, theaters are developing their own versions of this projecting concept. One example is Cinemark XD, found at Cinemark Theatres. According to the official website, Cinemark XD uses a “state-of-the-art projector capable of 35 trillion colors”.
In an effort to figure out the “Phantom’s” next scheme, Brian visits a movie spoiler website to discover the plot of an upcoming movie called “Midnight Mayhem”. The idea of spoilers has not changed in twenty years. However, the reveal of movie details has expanded beyond websites devoted to the concept. Spoilers can be found everywhere. Social media platforms have been avoided when big blockbusters are released. Warnings for spoilers can be featured toward the beginning of film reviews. Causal word of mouth may slip a major plot point into the conversation. With recent technological progress and the ability to connect with people from across the globe, it has actually become harder to prevent surprises in movies from being spoiled.
Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to the movie-going experience. Through the lens of film, we are given an opportunity to glimpse the past, even if it is only for a few hours. Phantom of the Megaplex captures how the cinema operated in the beginning of the millennium. It serves as a time capsule for those who remember that specific place in time. The movie is also a reminder of how far cinematic technology and the cinema itself has come. As of November 2020, it is unclear to determine what the landscape of movie theaters will look like by the time Phantom of the Megaplex turns twenty-five. While technology in film has made tremendous strides, there is still a lot that can be done. But will there be a facility to showcase these discoveries? There is no straightforward answer that can be given right now. However, we can still celebrate a movie’s milestone birthday through home entertainment and the internet. Like Movie Mason once said, “tell my theater that even when I’m not here, its magic is never far from my heart”.
For A Shroud of Thoughts’ 7th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon, I decided to choose a film that was already located on my DVR. Since last February, I have had a recording of the 2002 adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby. Because this story takes place in 19th century England and because this blogathon celebrates British cinema, reviewing the movie seemed like a perfect choice! Nicholas Nickleby is not the first adaptation based on a Charles Dickens novel I’ve written about. Within these two years, I have reviewed Oliver!, Oliver & Company, and The Death of Poor Joe. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know Nicholas Nickleby was based on a book by Charles Dickens until I saw the film’s opening credits. This film selection is a blessing in disguise. It not only gives me an opportunity to watch more movies from my DVR, but it also allows me to expand my cinematic horizons!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Nicholas and Smike have one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever seen put on film! This is the result of good screen-writing and good acting! Charlie Hunnam and Jamie Bell put emotion and heart into their individual roles. Together, they display strong on-screen camaraderie. A great example is when Nicholas is trying to read a story to Smike at Dotheboys Hall. Nicholas Nickleby contained an ensemble cast. Each actor and actress worked well with one another, as the performances complimented and highlighted every talent shown on screen. From Anne Hathaway’s use of various emotions to Christopher Plummer’s consistency, all the interactions brought out the best in each cast member!
The dialogue: As I just mentioned, Nicholas and Smike’s friendship was partly the result of good screen-writing. The movie’s screen-writing is also what caused the dialogue to be so memorable! Every piece of conversation reflected this film’s time period. However, the dialogue sounded eloquent without being pretentious. It was also easy to understand, allowing the audience to make sense of what the characters are saying. In one scene, Nicholas is helping Smike escape his kidnapping. The way he told Smike to hurry out of his current location contained urgency and importance. Conversations like the one I just referenced were a consistent and present component of this film!
A balance of despair and joy: I haven’t read Nicholas Nickleby, but I have read Oliver Twist. From what I remember, Charles Dickens found a way to balance the ideas of despair and joy. This balance can be found in the 2002 film! In the movie’s darker moments, despair could be seen and felt. It showed how ugliness presented itself in Nicholas’ world. But there was not so much of this ugliness and despair to make the audience feel depressed. Moments of joy and happiness served to counteract the darker moments. When joyous scenes occurred, they felt earned by the characters. At the same time, they didn’t make it seem like the rest of the film couldn’t be taken seriously. Instead, the incorporation of joy showed how there was beauty in the world, especially if Nicholas searched for it.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Lots of content in a limited time-frame: Having read two of Charles Dickens’ books, I know there is a lot of content in his stories. While watching Nicholas Nickleby, I could see there was a significant amount of content. The movie is two hours and twelve minutes. But because each plot point was seen as important, the run-time was bogged down by the large number of storylines. This caused the film to feel longer than its run-time. It makes me wonder if this particular narrative would have benefitted from a mini-series format?
Some unsmooth scene transitions: There were a few scene transitions in Nicholas Nickleby that weren’t given smooth transitions. When the story shows Kate’s, Nicholas’ sister’s, perspective, the chapter comes and ends more abruptly than other scenes. It almost feels like the plot temporarily shifts the protagonist role from Nicholas to Kate. Even though Kate plays an important role in Nicholas’ life, she is a supporting character, while her brother is the main character.
My overall impression:
Nicholas Nickleby is the fourth adaptation of one of Charles Dickens’ works I’ve reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. Out of these four, the best one is still the 1968 musical Oliver! Because I have read its source material, I know there was some content that was cut from the movie, likely for reasons relating to the run-time. Unlike Oliver!, Nicholas Nickleby contained a lot of content that effected its run-time. However, the story was understandable and the screen-writing was strong! Even though there were a few unsmooth scene transitions in Nicholas Nickleby, it never became a common occurrence. What was common was great acting performances, well-written dialogue, and relatable messages! Nicholas Nickleby does a good job at showing how there is both darkness and goodness in our world. In a year like 2020, where it seems like there is one conflict after another, it can be easy to forget the beauty this world can offer. Because of his bad and good experiences, Nicholas Nickleby always perseveres and never takes anything for granted. This is what we can learn from Nicholas’ story, whether or not Charles Dickens intended to teach his readers.
Overall score: 8.2 out of 10
Have you seen any adaptations from Charles Dickens’ work? Are there any British films you enjoy watching? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
At the end of last month, 18 Cinema Lane received 225 followers! Because of my participation in the Esther Williams Blogathon and the 4th Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon, I postponed this blog follower dedication review to this week. In that time, my blog also received 230 followers! Originally, this review was going to serve as an entry for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon. But because of everything I just said, I decided this post was only going to be a blog follower dedication review. I haven’t talked about a Hallmark movie in two months, with Nature of Love being the latest one. So, I chose Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Locket for this review. This is a movie I’ve wanted to watch for a few years. One of the reasons was Marguerite Moreau’s involvement in the film. After watching Queen of the Damned, I discovered she had starred in this Hallmark project from 2002. WhenHallmark Drama aired it recently, I knew I had to record it on my DVR!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: BecauseMarguerite Moreau is one of the reasons why I watched this film, I’ll talk about her performance first. Even though I haven’t watched many of her movies, I’ve noticed how her portrayals feel believable with what her character is experiencing. This is certainly the case for her performance in The Locket! Faye, Marguerite’s character, always appeared natural in her responses to various situations. It allowed me to stay invested in her part of the story. Another aspect to Marguerite’s performance is how her transitions between emotions were flawless! One good example takes place after Faye and Michael deliver Christmas gifts. Toward the beginning of this interaction, Faye is happy to spend time with her boyfriend. As she notices his demeanor, Faye’s face changes to showing an expression of concern. Speaking of Michael, I need to talk about Chad Willett’s performance. Throughout The Locket, Chad used a wide range of emotions. In a scene where Michael visits someone from his past, he appears angry and can be seen crying. Another scene, when Michael is telling Faye about his scholarship, shows him displaying happiness on his face. This part of Chad’s performance made the overall portrayal seem dynamic! I can’t review this movie without discussing Vanessa Redgrave’s performance. What I liked about it was how honest it came across. This component added depth to Vanessa’s portrayal. A good example is her character’s, Esther’s, first encounter with Michael. When he’s changing her bedsheets, Esther compliments Michael for not telling her she’s still beautiful. This is because she thinks that statement is silly.
Whitewood Nursing Home: A significant part of this story takes place at a nursing home called Whitewood. Despite this location serving a medical purpose, it didn’t feel like a medical facility. In fact, it looked and felt like a bed and breakfast! The interior design consistently ran throughout the home. Furniture helped make the rooms seem cozy, with armchairs in the bedrooms and main living room adding to this aesthetic. Detailed and flowery wallpaper displayed soft, pastel colors. This caused the overall location to have a calming effect. Fireplaces made of brick and wood completed the interior design of the rooms, making the home feel inviting. The exterior design of Whitewood is a large white wood structure, hence the name of the facility. These factors gave the impression of the home carrying a sense of importance. Because it is important to take care of the older members of a community, this appearance of the nursing home is fitting.
The on-screen chemistry: As I mentioned earlier in this review, Michael and Faye are in a dating relationship. Anytime they interacted with each other, I could tell Chad and Marguerite had strong on-screen chemistry! This caused their characters to feel like they truly cared about one another. Faye’s first visit to Whitewood is a good example of this. When Faye meets up with Michael, I could see her investment in what is happening in Michael’s life. This investment can also be seen when Michael learns about Faye’s acceptance into medical school. Non-romantic relationships also had good on-screen chemistry! Michael’s friendship with Esther came across like they got along well. It also effectively showed how they tried to understand each other. The scene where Esther explains the locket’s importance to Michael serves as one example.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The under-utilization of Marguerite Moreau: Marguerite is not only the third billed actor in this movie, she is also the main supporting actress. Despite this, she was kind of under-utilized in The Locket. While she was given enough material to make her performance memorable, her on-screen presence was not as consistent as I expected. Most of her appearances can be found in the film’s first half, with her character barely appearing in the second half of the movie. This makes me wonder if Marguerite was working on Queen of the Damned around the same time she was working on The Locket?
The locket is an afterthought: Before watching this film, I had expected the locket itself to affect the lives of the people surrounding it. Because the movie is called The Locket, I thought this artifact would have a large influence over the story. Sadly, this piece of jewelry ends up being an afterthought. Most of the film revolves around Michael and his hardships. When an explanation of the locket’s importance is finally given, happening about forty-five minutes into the movie, it takes place during one dialogue and video heavy scene. What would have made this artifact emotionally affective is if flashbacks from Esther’s life or from around the time Esther received the locket would have been sprinkled throughout the story.
Scenes that feel rushed: There were some scenes in The Locket that, to me, felt rushed. In one scene, Michael is at the VA Hospital, picking up a prescription for a patient at Whitewood. The very next scene shows Michael sharing some good news to Esther. Scenes like the one at the VA Hospital made it seem like the film’s creative team wanted to get certain parts of the story done and over with just to get to the next point. What also doesn’t help is how these scenes didn’t have effective transitions. It caused scenes like the one with Michael and Esther to feel too sudden.
My overall impression:
Before I talk about my overall impression, I’d like to thank all of my followers who helped my blog reach this milestone! Your investment in 18 Cinema Lane plays a role in its overall success! Now, time to discuss my final thoughts on The Locket! As glad as I am to have finally seen this movie, I recognize there are Hallmark Hall of Fame titles with similar ideas that are stronger than this one. Two examples are the 1998 film, Grace & Glorie,and 2011’s The Lost Valentine. One thing that The Locket was missing was an emphasis on the locket itself. Instead of having a story where this piece of jewelry impacts the lives surrounding it, the audience received a narrative where the locket is treated as an afterthought. I know there were three Hallmark Hall of Fame movies released in 2002. But, for whatever reason, there were times when The Locket felt rushed. Despite these flaws, the movie did have its strengths. The acting was definitely a high-light of this project, especially Marguerite Moreau’s performance! For me, she stole the show and even outshined the other actors involved! I just wish her on-screen presence would have been more consistent.
Overall score: 7.2 out of 10
Is there a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that you enjoying? Would you like to recommend a Hallmark Hall of Fame film for me to review? Please let me know in the comment section!
This editorial was written before Valentine’s Day.
Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day when the general theme of love is celebrated. The colors of red and pink are a signature staple whenever February 14th comes around. Hearts are the official shape of the holiday, sometimes filled with candy. This special day is usually known as a happy occasion, a time we can set aside to show the people around us how much we truly care about them. Movie fans sometimes take part in Valentine’s Day festivities by talking about their favorite cinematic couples, sharing their opinions on why they think these relationships are romantic and using a selection of movie quotes and scenes to prove their point. However, we movie fans know that not every cinematic relationship is a healthy one. Some of them are down-right toxic. In this editorial, I will be talking about a cinematic relationship that I, personally, feel is very problematic. By looking at the title, you might already know which on-screen couple I will be talking about. Last October, when I reviewed Queen of the Damned, I mentioned that, to me, Lestat and Akasha’s relationship was one of the most problematic relationships I’ve ever seen in a movie. However, I was only able to briefly explain why I feel this way. Because of my involvement in the Ultimate 2000s blogathon, I now have a chance to explain, in detail, why this particular cinematic relationship is not a healthy one. Before I begin this editorial, I would just like to say that I am only creating this post out of pure honesty and based on my opinion. I am in no way creating this post to be mean-spirited or be negative toward anyone’s cinematic preferences/opinions. In this editorial, I will specifically be referencing the characters and story from the Queen of the Damned film. I will be bringing up specific scenes and quotes in order to prove my point. Now, let’s talk about why Lestat and Akasha’s relationship is problematic by looking at five key areas: lack of consent, lack of communication, a power imbalance, intentional harm toward a significant other, and a not-so-loving significant other.
Lack of Consent
One of the most important components to any romantic relationship is consent. Asking someone’s permission and making sure that both members of a relationship are comfortable before putting themselves and each other in any situation is usually seen as a sign of how much the other person cares for the one they love. Unfortunately, Lestat and Akasha’s relationship is lacking in this department. In my Queen of the Damned review, I mentioned that Akasha is the one who controlled the relationship, using the analogy of Akasha driving a car and Lestat being stuck in the passenger seat. This is not only true, but it’s also important to keep this truth in mind when discussing these five key areas of Lestat and Akasha’s problematic relationship. The first instance of Akasha not asking for Lestat’s consent happens at his concert. During a performance at his concert, a group of vampires climb up on stage and try to hurt Lestat. Marius tries to fight off these vampires in order to protect Lestat, but eventually he and Lestat are surrounded by even more vampires. While Akasha shows up, in the middle of the concert, and defeats these vampires, she ends up taking advantage of the situation. Akasha crashes through the stage (as if the concert were her own, making a showstopping entrance in the process), takes Lestat against his will, and leaves. We, the audience, never see her ask Lestat if he wants to go anywhere with her or if he even wants to leave his concert. In fact, we never see Akasha make an effort to contact Lestat and make plans with him ahead of time. While Akasha took away Lestat’s chance to choose whether or not he wanted to leave, this is not the last time Akasha refused to ask for his consent.
After Akasha and Lestat leave his concert, they arrive at her house. During their conversation, Akasha briefly mentions her deceased husband. When Lestat asks Akasha about her late husband’s whereabouts, she tells him, “He’s no more. Now you are my consort”. Here, Akasha is not only forcing Lestat to be her new husband, but also forcing Lestat into a marriage that he has very little interest in being a part of. Once again, Akasha chose not to ask Lestat if he was ok with being in a relationship with her or if he wanted to be married to her at all. She refuses to give him a choice or a chance to voice his concerns. After this conversation, Lestat and Akasha have an intimate moment with each other in a tub filled with water and red rose petals. We, the audience, don’t see Akasha asking Lestat if he’s comfortable with the situation or if he even wants to be in the situation. During this scene, it appears, at times, that Lestat is comfortable sharing this intimate moment with Akasha. However, there are a few times when Lestat appears as if he’s slipping out of consciousness. While body language can be helpful in figuring out what someone wants or needs, body language only tells a part of the story. It seems as if Akasha only relied on a select portion of Lestat’s body language in order to receive the message she wanted to hear. Whenever Lestat appears to be slipping out of consciousness, Akasha never addresses Lestat’s reaction or asks him if anything is wrong. She just acts like nothing out of the ordinary is happening.
Lack of Communication
A necessary component that is interwoven with consent is communication. In a romantic relationship, words are needed to share feelings, address concerns, and build/strengthen a bond. As I mentioned before, Akasha is the one controlling her relationship with Lestat. Therefore, she is controlling their conversation. During their first conversation at her house, Akasha is talking at Lestat and not to him, leaving very little room for Lestat to contribute to their conversation. In fact, half of this conversation is about Akasha. For example, when she tells Lestat about things she has observed about him, she says “You live your life in the open, like I did”. After she tells Lestat that he is now her husband, Akasha tells him “That’s why I kept you safe. Alive”. It seems like Akasha always finds a way to insert herself into the conversation. She doesn’t want to bother with Lestat’s perspective on anything. It is clear that Akasha is not interested in participating in an equally balanced conversation between her and Lestat.
It’s also important to observe how Akasha talks about Lestat. She mostly refers to him as “my love” or “my king”. However, she only addresses Lestat by his name on less than three occasions. Based on this observation, it appears that Akasha wants to highlight her connection to Lestat, almost as if she holds a sort of ownership over him. During the film’s climax, when Lestat is drinking some of her blood, Akasha tells the other vampires in her presence “You see how he obeys me”. In that sentence alone, Akasha not only refuses to address Lestat by his name, but it also seems like Akasha does not see Lestat as an equal sigfinicant other to her, but instead something she feels she can control.
A Power Imbalance
In a healthy relationship, both members should be equal to one another. Any type of power should be shared amongst each other and a balanced amount of control should be given to each member of that relationship. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Lestat and Akasha’s relationship. Because Akasha is a queen and one of the first vampires ever created, according to Queen of the Damned, Akasha feels she has the right to do, say, act, and treat others whatever and however she wants. This is why Akasha is the one controlling her relationship with Lestat, because she feels she is the most important and powerful vampire in that particular cinematic world. In the morning, after Akasha takes Lestat to her house, she tells him “This is but a taste of what we shall share, my love. My king. Behold our kingdom”. However, Akasha purposefully leaves him out of the process of building their “kingdom”. Lestat wakes up all alone and, later, finds several dead mortals at the pool and on the beach. He has no idea where Akasha is until she shows up minutes later. During this conversation, Lestat appears to be unhappy with what Akasha is telling him, even looking disgusted when Akasha talks about the dead mortals on her property. In their relationship, Lestat and Akasha never make any decisions together, don’t discuss any matters of importance, or comtemplate Lestat’s new “title”. It honestly feels as if Lestat and Akasha aren’t on the same page, let alone the same book.
Because of Akasha’s title and her amount of control in their relationship, it appears to be negatively affecting Lestat as a person. Earlier in the film, Lestat is interacting with two female fans. When one of the fans tries to physically take adventage of him, Lestat pushes her hands away and tells her “Don’t do that”. Since there was no power imbalance present in this interaction, Lestat appeared comfortable addressing this fan’s error in not asking for his consent. In his relationship with Akasha, Lestat says very little to her. In the two conversations they had at her house, Lestat only asks short questions. At Marahet’s house, during the film’s climax, Lestat mostly stays silent, more often than not speaking when someone is addressing him. During their intimate moment in the rose petal filled tub, Lestat doesn’t say a word to Akasha, even when she bites his chest. Based on his reaction, it seems like Lestat was negatively affected by her actions. But he doesn’t speak up about these actions to Akasha. It’s hard to tell if he is remaining quiet out of fear or to play along with Akasha’s plan in order to defeat her. Throughout their relationship, the audience doesn’t receive any voice-overs from Lestat like in previous scenes within this film.
Intentional Harm toward a Significant Other
When we think of a typical, healthy relationship, we think of significant others who treat each other with kindness and respect. Images of loving actions, such as hugging and snuggling on the couch, sometimes come to mind. In Lestat and Akasha’s relationship, we never see them perform loving actions toward each other, such as hugging. Even though they have an intimate moment on two separate occasions, both of them involving a lot of kissing, that is the closest thing to a loving action we see throughout their relationship. During Lestat and Akasha’s intimate moment in the rose petal filled tub, Akasha decides to bite Lestat’s chest. This causes him to flinch in pain and have a bloody wound on his chest. Akasha, however, does not seem to care that she has physically hurt her “husband”. Instead, she continues to kiss Lestat as if nothing ever happened. Lestat also never mentions this incident to Akasha or anyone else. The next day, at Maharet’s house, Lestat drinks some of Akasha’s blood. When Akasha is trying to make Lestat stop, she physically pushes him to the point of, practically, throwing him. This causes Lestat to fall on cement stairs. Fortunately, Lestat does not appear to receive any injuries from this incident. As for Lestat, the only thing closest to a harmful action toward Akasha happens on two occasions; a) When Lestat is drinking her blood, but in this situation, he is pretending not to stop in order to provide a distraction so the other vampires can have a chance to defeat Akasha and b) When Lestat drinks Akasha’s blood again, but this time, to protect himself and the others at Maharet’s house from Akasha’s dangerous and villainous ways.
A not-so-loving significant other
For any romantic relationship, there needs to be a significant amount of love between those two people. A true love where both individuals love that person for who they are as well each other’s characters is an important ingredient. In Lestat and Akasha’s relationship, however, it never feels like they truly love each other. Because Lestat was forced into the relationship by Akasha, it doesn’t seem like he is invested in the relationship. Meanwhile, Akasha claims to love Lestat, but her reasons for loving him make one wonder if her intentions are self-centered. Earlier in Queen in the Damned, Akasha visits a vampire bar. When she arrives, she sees Lestat on television. When a patron at the bar asks if she likes Lestat, Akasha replies by saying “He reminds me of someone”. Days later, when Akasha forcibly takes Lestat to her house, she tells Lestat “Now you are my consort. That’s why I kept you safe. Alive”. As Lestat asks her if she really did save him at his concert, Akasha asks him “You thought it was all you” and then says “The ego of a king as well”. Based on what Akasha has said, it seems like she loves Lestat because he reminds her of her deceased husband. Though she never directly tells Lestat or anybody this, it is left to be assumed by the audience.
During their relationship, Akasha doesn’t really make an effort to get to know Lestat. In fact, she assumes she knows enough about him in order for their relationship to work. In their first conversation at her house, she tells him “all your wishes are come true”. When Lestat asks Akasha to specify what wishes she’s referring to, she tells him “For a companion. To share eternity”. Prior to this interaction, Lestat never mentioned anything about wanting or needing a companion. In fact, when Marius visits Lestat in Los Angeles, he tells Marius “I only have myself. You taught me that”. Also, during Akasha and Lestat’s first conversation at her house, she tells him “You’re bold, like your music” and “I know you, Lestat. I know that you crave to have the world at your feet”. Two things happen because of Akasha’s assumptions. The first thing is Akasha is basing her knowledge of Lestat on the image he’s presented as a musical performer. She’s only listened to a few of his songs, seen him on television once, and interrupted his concert. The musical side of Lestat is only a small part of him, so Akasha does not have as much information about him as she thinks she does. The second thing is Akasha assumes she knows what Lestat wants. Throughout the film, Lestat has said that he wants to walk in the light and not hide in the shadows. But, because Akasha does not take the time to ask Lestat what he wants, she gives him a royal title that he did not want or ask for. In Lestat’s case, he knows enough about Akasha to know what kind of a person she is. All of his knowledge of her comes from Marius, after Lestat stumbled across Akasha’s statue-esque being in Marius’ house. While in Los Angeles, Marius shares with Lestat that not only has his music woken Akasha up, but that she also killed her husband and took his blood and powers.
As I’ve said before, Akasha is the one controlling this relationship. This causes her to feel like she can do and say whatever her vampire heart desires. Despite the fact that she is the film’s villain, she doesn’t seem to have any trace of kindness or empathy toward others. At Maharet’s house, during the film’s climax, Akasha asks Lestat if he loves her. When Lestat says “Yes”, Akasha says “Then prove it” and orders him to kill Jesse, a woman that Lestat not only knows quite well, but also would rather be in a romantic relationship with. If two people love each other, they do not need to prove anything to the other person. Their actions and choices should speak for themselves. By Akasha forcing Lestat to prove his “love” for her by hurting someone else shows that Akasha doesn’t really think that highly of Lestat or anybody that he personally knows. If their relationship was healthy, Lestat’s love for his significant other would be enough proof that he cares about that person. It seems no matter what Lestat does or says, it will never be good enough for Akasha.
While Lestat and Akasha’s relationship is very problematic, it fortunately does not last long. Lestat and the other vampires at Maheret’s house are able to successfully defeat Akasha. This allows Lestat to escape this toxic relationship and enter a healthy, romantic relationship with Jesse. When I’ve read reviews for Queen of the Damned, no one had brought up Lestat and Akasha’s horrible, but short-lived relationship. It also doesn’t help that this film’s marketing campaign paints their relationship in a very different light. On the film’s poster, Lestat and Akasha are the only two people featured in the image. In the trailer, not only are Lestat and Akasha the only two characters who are prominently featured, but the movie’s footage and the voice-overs are set up in a way that makes it seem like Lestat chose to be in a relationship with Akasha and had contemplated turning to the dark side. As my editorial and the film itself shows, this is far from the truth. Even though movie fans would, probably, rather talk about the cinematic relationships worth rooting for, it’s important to take the time to talk about the not-so-healthy relationships in film. When observing these choices and behaviors, we movie fans and people in general can learn how not to treat others as well as leading a better example in our own real-life relationships, whether or not they’re romantic. It will not only make for a better Valentine’s Day, but also for better and many years to come.